POLITICS

Cory Bernardi Has Left The Liberals, But What Exactly Does He Stand For?

Liberated, but still liberal.

08/02/2017 8:40 AM AEDT | Updated 08/02/2017 2:44 PM AEDT
Andrew Meares/Fairfax
Senator Cory Bernardi wants to offer disillusioned voters a “credible, principled, stable alternative.”

CANBERRA -- Frustrated and "ignored," Cory Bernardi is building his new political party "Australian Conservatives" around "enduring principles that have stood us in good stead and will put our children in good stead".

The senator believes the principles and values of Liberal Party he has just left after 30 years have shifted away from him, dramatically.

It is not him. It is them.

Bernardi is seen as a classic small government economic rationalist -- in short, we know virtually zip about his policy platform, but we have a fair idea about what he does not stand for.

Bernardi opposes:

Climate science

Same-sex marriage

The safe schools program

Islam

Big government

Abortion

Working within the party had not worked, according to the Senator, and he insisted he was forced to act with his dramatic party exit on the first day of parliament for 2017.

The last election result for the Coalition, despite the win, was a "disaster" as he saw the Liberal base turn away. And he is now offering disillusioned voters a "credible, principled, stable alternative".

Alex Ellinghausen/Fairfax
Senator Cory Bernardi has moved to a new crossbench seat in the senate

Pressed on Channel 9's Today Show, in the wake of his defection, Bernardi could not name current government policies that he opposed.

But what does the new crossbencher actually stand for? How is he going to exercise his new found freedom?

Bernardi has crossed the floor before. On student unionism to support standing Liberal policy. And on tax disclosure for private companies, also standing up for Liberal policy.

Andrew Meares/Fairfax
Pauline Hanson listening to Cory Bernardi announce his departure from the Liberal Party

The "Australian Conservatives" website lists four guiding, but vague sounding principles; limited government, personal responsibility, free enterprise and civil society.

His precise pitch to voters is a complete unknown. He is, in many ways, still a loyal Liberal. He has almost always voted with the government, but, as noted, he has crossed the floor standing up for what he viewed as Liberal policy.

But he has warned the government not to depend now on his vote.

Bernardi not a Pauline Hanson-style protectionist, but he backs her opposition to Islam on cultural and security grounds.

He wants to ban the burqa as a "shroud of oppression" and has described asylum seekers as "welfare squatters".

The South Australian is familiar with being pushed back on his ideas and has been called "extreme" by members of his own party.

But he always bounced back, until now.

He is on the outside now. Liberated, but not Liberal.

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